Shades kept light at bay, their crocheted tassels hung
in meager sun, behind draped inner curtains and darker
patterned brocade. The old apartment, a cave, a lair.
Armchairs rested on their haunches, moody under
fancy antimacassars, ancients huddled on the oriental rug.
In the kitchen, smoke and words swirled. Backed into the corner
the coal hod sat beside the stove. The white lip of the kitchen
sink curled, a place they rested elbows, leaned, pondered
the unfairness of the world. The boy they sent off
to the basement out the wide front doors, then down
the concrete steps. He lugged the trash into shadows
of boogeymen, slanted eyes of rats, the sound
of threats and laughter from above, older boys who
flicked the wheels of lighters, coughed and spat.
The girl crouched beneath the table amid sensible shoes,
one finger traced the leaves on green linoleum,
waited for someone to lift the scissors, snip the cord
tied around the white box, take up the knife and slice.
On good days, a carriage nestled beside the curved entryway,
a greataunt on the first floor rested a pair of flattened
forearms on the windowsill, watched the baby sleep.
The mother knelt in the bathroom, breasts pressed
against the tub, held the board, slapped heavy sheets,
scrubbed, short wet hairs clinging to her neck.
Blast Furnace, Vol. 5, Issue 2